Construction on Ogijima

 

Yesterday, the weather was pretty much perfect, so we decided for an impromptu and long overdue visit to Ogijima:

 

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Ogicho’s port

 

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As the title of the post hints, I was surprised by the number of construction sites on the island. It may just be a coincidence, it feel like it’s one of the many signs that the island is really starting to “revive” itself. On that spot, very near the port, used to be one of the many abandoned houses of the village. It has been razed a couple of months ago, and now something else is being built. Not sure what yet, it doesn’t look like a house, but I can’t wait to find out.

 

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I just can’t get tired of admiring Ogijima’s Soul.

 

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Apricots!

Believe it or not, I think that this is the first time I see apricots outside of Europe… and on Ogijima of all places. (Unfortunately) they were in somebody’s garden, so I couldn’t pick a few. I got plums instead, that were kindly given by an island obachan as we were chilling at Café Tachi, just like that, for no reason – although I know her by sight, so maybe she does too. Honestly, it is amazing as pretty much every single time we go to the island we return home with something that was given to us by a resident.

 

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The swimming pool looking like a swimming pool for the first time since I’ve known the island. The younger residents completely cleaned it and restored it a few weeks ago. One of the great side effects of the school reopening (this is not a public swimming pool, but the school’s)

 

And as we’re talking about the school’s reopening, this is what the old building looks like right now (if you came during the Setouchi Triennale last year, you may be shocked):

 

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As you can see a ramp has been built so that construction vehicles can climb to the school. Downhill, the remnants of the buildings that have already been demolished as well as the roots of the old trees that have been cut down.

If you haven’t followed the latest news, after the installation of three new families on the island, there were enough kids to reopen the school, and after a hard fought battle with the city which wasn’t too crazy about spending so much money on the tiny island (but the killing argument was that this is the whole point of the Setouchi Triennale, why hold it if, when it’s time to actually revive the island, we don’t do it), it was agreed that it would indeed reopen. Except that the old building wasn’t up-to-date with the current norms, especially the anti-seismic ones. So the old building is being completely renovated in an operation that will last several months (in the meantime a temporary school has been built in the port).

 

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If you add that to the usual mess that tends to occupy this area of the island, you get a pretty interesting “landscape”:

 

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Another building has just been renovated, the one right next to Team Ogi’s workshop.
I’m not sure what it is.

 

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A lot of Ogijima visitors (understand, mostly younger Japanese women) love Ogijima for one reason. It’s not the great art, not the wonderfully quaint village, not even the islanders niceness. No, it’s the cats that can be found in some parts of the island. Seriously, search the hashtag #男木島 on sites like Tumblr or Instagram, and you’ll mostly see pictures of cats.

Here is some of them:

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Honestly, I do find them a bit gross, borderline scary. The thing is that they all gather around a house, where Ogijima’s crazy cat lady must live and feed them. The thing is that those cats are not “cute”, those cats are famished, half feral, dirty, some of them are sick, most of them must have fleas and other parasites.

In other words, the obsession with cats that many Japanese people have prevent them from seeing the truth. I’m not saying that it’s a psychosis, but I’m not saying it’s not.

Seriously, while cats are far from being my favorite animal, I really fail to see what’s cute with those (and I’d have the same feeling if those were dogs, or rabbits or hamsters or whatever instead of cats).

 

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Keisuke Yamaguchi’s Walking Ark

 

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Something in the water. Not sure what it is. Looks like a crustacean on the picture, but the way it doesn’t move despite the waves makes me think of some sort of seashell. Anyone?

 

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I really think that Jaume Plensa’s Ogijima’s Soul is the second most beautiful building in the area (after Teshima Art Museum that is).

 

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Fun fact: I took the very same picture (with a very different light) during my very first visit of the island back in 2009. Some sort of homage if you want.

 

Unfortunately, no amazing time at Onba Factory this Sunday as the Oshimas were absent and while it was possible to visit the Factory, Onba Café was closed. But our disappointment was washed off with a pleasant surprise just as we walked down from Onba Factory:

 

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We ran into Rikuji Makabe who was putting some fixing touches to his Wallalley as he does from time to time. It was the first time we met, we didn’t talk much (just enough to ask him for a picture for the blog), but I hope to meet him again one of those days. He’s one of those artists who came to Ogijima more or less randomly for the first Triennale in 2010 and who fell in love with the island – that’s pretty much every artist I’ve met on Ogijima so far by the way. He regularly comes back every since, and his art has now become a part of the island.

 

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By the way, I finally know what those sorts of chimneys are for thanks to Amy Chavez.
(click on the link at your own risk)

 

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The temporary school’s entrance

 

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The temporary schoolyard

 

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Naoshima in the distance

 

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See you soon Ogijima

 

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